When The Financial Gurus Are Wrong (For You)

I enjoy the Gurus. I enjoy seeing popular media personalities talk about life, living the dream, and hearing their personal views on finance. I’ve read all of their books, listened to their shows, taught some of their classes, and enjoyed almost all of it. More often than not, the general advice they give is pretty good. Or at least, much better than the population of their followers. Most people would benefit from following the baby steps, getting out of debt, or riding a bike. But are all the gurus right for you?

suzeThe great part is everyone has their guru. In the financial community, it’s Buffett, Dave, Suze, C. Howard or even Mr. Money Mustache. They are all in the big game of trying to get financial information to us in entertaining and occasionally educational ways. They build audiences, platforms, and have followers that most small time authors or bloggers only dream about. And they are pretty good. But, are they good for you? Is it even possible for one person to give accurate advice for everyone in the world?

The trouble with gurus is that they have to ascribe a one size fits all approach. To really build a platform, one needs consistency and quotability. It is more important to have a uniform message than to try and navigate all the unique situations that arise in real life. Continue reading When The Financial Gurus Are Wrong (For You)

The Future of Simple Economist

Money, Life, Friends, Food and Nola- That’s FinCon14. I spent some time last month attending a conference centered around financial writing, blogging, and financial media (#FinCon14). Conferences are typically pretty boring but this was one of the best. It was a pretty neat conference that had an interesting mix of fresh faces and fascinating people I’ve only mildly interacted with online. It can be a little awkward when you meet an author for the first time. Especially when you have read a lot of their work and often many of the personal details they have shared about their story. However, I found the experience to be quite entertaining and I came away with a better understanding of the group of authors who write in the financial blogging space.

Back-to-the-FutureOne of the highlights was taking a few minutes to sit down with Phillip (PT Money) and Pete (Mr. Money Mustache) for a one-on-one brainstorming session for Simple Economist. It was a neat opportunity to speak frankly with two very successful bloggers, but also a great session to think and dream about the future of this blog. The simplest question was the hardest to answer: “What is the point of all your writing?” Or maybe it was: “Who are you writing to?”. I’ve spent a lot of time the past few weeks brainstorming about the future of this site. The great news is that we don’t need to have all the answers upfront to participate in the blogging ride. I’ve also learned you are always making “progress” if you are enjoying the process. Continue reading The Future of Simple Economist

New: I Recommend Page

Services | Products | Books | Blogs | Everything

One of the main tenants of Simple Economist is simply being efficient with our spending decisions. This often means buying fewer things and being mindful of the items we do purchase. We frequently get asked about different products or services we actually use and have truly enjoyed over the years. Here is a collection of different things we can personally recommend to our readers. This page will constantly be updated as we experiment and try new things but many of our recommended companies, services, and books have been consistent over the years.

We do a lot of research before we make any recommendation but many individuals have unique situations that make specific selections a personal decision. We are always looking for improvement so let us know if you feel like there is a better option or we are missing a clearly excellent product or service. If we like your recommendation better, we will update our page to reflect the changes.

Bloggers are often supported by referral links in their articles. A few of the companies listed happen to offer commissions for online referrals. Several others do not. We do not make our recommendations based on revenue, but where available, we use special links so that this blog will get a credit if you end up becoming a customer. It is an optional way to support this blog so we can continue to write and provide great content!

Continue reading New: I Recommend Page

Buy For Life

We live in a disposable culture. We are constantly being introduced to objects with low price tags and seemingly even lower shelf-lives.  We often find ourselves with more stuff due to the excess junk that surrounds us. Each week we are introduced to cheaply imported, lower quality, disposable versions of what we already have. And we buy it in order to save a few ticks on the altar of convenience. I’ve contributed. Over the years I’ve purchased plenty of low quality, disposable items that I’ve used and discarded. I’ve also purchased inexpensive things only to have them break a few weeks later after a couple of uses. It doesn’t take an economist very long to put together the notion that high quality items uniquely provide a better experience and often cost less in the long run.

SBL-BC-800x380Buying for life is a philosophy we have adopted when purchasing non-consumable items for our family. The notion of buying for life is simply about acquiring high quality, timeless items that will last a very long time. It often requires a bit more capital up front, but the returns come about for years since the well crafted items rarely break or need to be replaced. High quality items can often be repaired instead of being tossed thus contributing to a slightly smaller pile of junk in our municipal wastelands. Buying for life is the antithesis of our disposable culture. Continue reading Buy For Life

Cultivating Relationships

Relationships are arguably the most important part of our lives. Along with health and safety, they make up some of the most basic needs it takes to live happily. We spend a lot of time reading about money, careers, sports, celebrities, or skills that will help us in the marketplace. And we spend a lot of time cultivating success (or attempting to) in those areas as well. But often, we discount the importance of relationships to our overall well-being. In fact, we frequently spend our time doing things that directly harm, or indirectly make it difficult to successfully manage quality relationships.

cultivating realtionshipsRelationships are interesting to study. We all have some combination of relationships that exist in our lives. They normally start with family but involve friends, coworkers, neighbors, and casual acquaintances. Although some people would argue that relationships extend to pets, celebrities, or collectible cars, we’ll limit the scope of this article to fellow humans. Intuitively, we all have a basic understanding of how relationships work. We have good ones and probably some that could use some attention. Relationships are constantly evolving and mean different things as we move through different stages of life. We must learn to cultivate relationships or they will atrophy over time. Continue reading Cultivating Relationships

We Are All Getting Richer

It seems that most of what is being written about the current state of the political economy is pretty gloomy. The Rich Are Getting Richer seems to be the mantra of many on (surprisingly) both sides of the political spectrum. And statistically, the numbers don’t disagree. We also are bombarded with the ‘rising cost’ of seemingly everything even though wages are only growing slowly for some. I’m not here to debate the whole wealth and income inequality issue. I’m not really into stirring that pot and I’m pretty sure it has been stirred enough. But it is interesting to see what is often neglected and fails to make headlines or cover pieces for major media. In many ways, we are all getting richer.

we are richerAre we actually getting poorer or richer? I think we are getting richer. We live in a time of incredible security and opportunity. Technology has increased so rapidly in the past fifty years, we can’t even comprehend how fortunate we are. It is a pretty cool time in history to be alive. First world countries today are incredibly wealthy. Even second world countries have access to amenities that would have only been available to the insanely wealthy just a hundred years ago. We are really rich. We have so much, not just in material possessions, but in security, opportunity, and availability of knowledge. We even have access to incredible, delicious food year round! Continue reading We Are All Getting Richer

2014 Cableless TV Setup

The television industry is in an interesting state of flux. Bundled cable subscriptions are still widely used by older individuals and, despite continually rising prices, fewer people than expected are actually ‘cutting the cord’. Younger individuals and many Millennials are simply skipping the traditional cable experience and going straight to the source for the content they want. Technology is making the entire process of finding information incredibly easy and inexpensive. The amount of material available continues to rise as do the various ways to see and consume video content. We literally have millions of hours of content available to us at a moments notice on almost evecableless tvry possible medium. Each year we have new options, products, and devices that come out. It can be tough to keep up with all of the changes. And, rarely does a product come along that can provide a better experience, save me money, and combine several ideals I’ve desired for quite some time (FireTV).

We haven’t had cable for years now, and I have tried pretty much every server, media center, and set top box in the last five years. I believe I have tried about 15 different boxes and streamers, but I’ve had difficulty finding that one that could do everything. In fact, in previous posts I’ve recommended several different options but now there is a single one that works best. Continue reading 2014 Cableless TV Setup

The Simple Economist’s Guide To Cash Flow Planning

I think it would surprise most people how little time my family devotes to planning our spending. Most of our processes are currently automated and we really only discuss money during occasional unique situations. When we teach financial classes people often ask us about the specifics of how we manage our money. They want to know details about how we spend, budget, prioritize, and automate. The process seems daunting at first, but with a little bit of set-up, it almost runs on its own.

cash flowMany years ago we put together a little system and we have been using and tweaking it for years. At this point, we only spend a few minutes each month planning, talking, organizing, tracking, and thinking about our money. Almost everything is automatic. Saving, Giving, Investing, Tracking, and Planning are all done automatically. Setting up the simple system was really about thinking through three basic concepts: Prioritize, Automate, and Commit- then Repeat. That’s it. Money doesn’t have to be very complicated. We have simply chosen to organize our money so that it is in line with the important parts of our life. Continue reading The Simple Economist’s Guide To Cash Flow Planning

30 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 30 Years

2013-12-14 20.15.47Today marks the day that I turn 30. Well, in a few hours actually. Some days I feel like I’ve learned and seen a lot. Others, it feels like I’m just getting started. It is amazing to reflect on the things we’ve seen, experienced and the people we have encountered. I’ve learned a lot reading great works but I think I’ve learned even more from observing other’s behavior and listening to their words. I want to spend my life pursuing knowledge and I hope to enjoy the process of continual education.

Although I feel like I’m still at the beginning of my journey, I’ll share a few things I’ve learned along the way. (Picture from #11). As an author, some posts are more fun than others. This is certainly one of the more entertaining ones to write. Without further ado:

30 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 30 Years Continue reading 30 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 30 Years

The Example We Set

One of the most powerful motivators that exists is an awesome example. People enjoy looking at Warren Buffet’s success in investing or Michael Jordan’s dominance on the court. And if you are trying to achieve personal financial domination, Mr. Money Mustache might be a slightly exaggerated example. But most of the examples in our lives are much closer to home. Most of our influences are close friends, teachers, mentors, or parents. The examples that influence our opinions and actions most are those with whom we are closest to.

exampleExamples are both good or bad. Just ask someone who had a parent who smoked while they were growing up. Rarely do you see a smoker’s child ambivalent about smoking. Most, either casually fall into their parents’ footsteps, or despise the substance and go out of their way to avoid it. We influence other people whether we realize it or not. In almost every situation there is someone who takes notice of our actions and attitudes. We are setting an example. Sometimes that is good and sometimes it might not be as positive as we wish. Continue reading The Example We Set